April 21st, 2009
12:48 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama leaves door open to prosecution of Bush officials

ALT TEXT

President Obama said Tuesday it will be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether or not to prosecute the former officials. (GETTY IMAGES)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama left open the possibility of criminal prosecution Tuesday for former Bush administration officials who drew up the legal basis for interrogation techniques that many view as torture.

He said it will be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to decide whether or not to prosecute the former officials.

"With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more a decision for the Attorney General within the parameter of various laws and I don't want to prejudge that," Obama said during a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House.

"There's a host of very complicated issues involved there. As a general deal, I think we should be looking forward and not backwards. I do worry about this getting so politicized that we cannot function effectively and it hampers our ability to carry out critical national security operations."

Obama reiterated his belief that he did not think it is appropriate to prosecute those CIA officials and others who actually carried out the interrogations in question.

"This has been a difficult chapter in our history and one of (my) tougher decisions," he added.

The techniques listed in the Bush-era memos released last week "reflected... us losing our moral bearings," he said.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (317 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Good. May they burn in hell for what they did to fellow human beings and the perception of our country as a bastion of freedom, tolerance and justice.

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. aware

    This is amazing fcoming from a guy with no moral center! :(

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. ABMiller

    See? Liberals love everyone...except for fellow citizens who hold and express a different point of view.

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Michael USAF (Ret.)

    While your at it Mr. President, why don't you prosecute President Truman and his administration for dropping bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan for killing innocent civilians. Also open a case on President Johnson for Vietnam war crimes.

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. Thought Criminal

    I don't see anything we do to our own troops as torture. That's all I'm gonna say about that.

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Mary B

    obama...needs to walk a fine line.....what goes around..comes around....if he has the devastation like New York, Pa and Washington had with the terrorists....he may change his tune.......he is acting more of a dictator than anything

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. NARDOFREE VIRGINIA

    cnn had cheney on this morning, unapologetic about anything done during his watch. maybe he should close the lid on his mouth, before some people , start going to jail. the president has gotta be tired of all the silliness from this group. everyday, there's something new!

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Tim

    Obama lets out these memos because he says there isn't anything new in them, that we lost our moral compass, and that the methods didn't work. He then releases a heavily redacted memo of the things we found out from those who we used these methods on. If they didn't work, then we didn't find anything out. If we didn't find anything out, then there is no need to redact anything.

    Seems political to me.

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. g.j man

    Next up..

    Obama,,

    His downing of america in the face of our enemies should be treasonous. The next president should prosecute all the tarp and aig oversight persons ie. the obama administration.

    Yeah thats right go after the people that has kept us safe for 7 years...Smart...really Smart sheesh

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  10. John

    Too good to be true. Hope both Bush & Cheney spend rest of their lives behind closed bars. They earned it and deserves every bit.

    April 21, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  11. aware

    This is amazing coming from a guy with no moral center! :(

    April 21, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Lisa B

    Justice be served.

    April 21, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Angela

    You would think that if the republicans really did not want to open this pandora, then they would have stopped critiquing every move that Oboma has made. When you are under supspicion of illegality, it is foolish for you to draw so much attention to yourself. I can't ever recall an outgoing administration that felt it appropiate to critique the new administration. Bush and Cheney were allowed to make their mistakes. Why do they not give the same courtesy?

    April 21, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. mj

    And if something happens like 9-11 ( or worse) you lunatics will be the first ones hollering "why din't we do something. we should have known.

    April 21, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Mary B

    For someone who is suppose to be a uniter.....he is certainly dividing people more than ever along with the fact people are getting down right mean and ignornat about real life....they surely are easily swayed

    April 21, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Jason Willis

    I hope all intelligent agents will quit soon. Let "BOBAMA" run the show and use more bailout.

    April 21, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    @ Chi Town, who said "don't foget Kennedy and the rest of the Arms Services Comittee who where fully aware of everything… including Hillary Clinton"

    What was done was done from the Executive Branch as run by the Bush administration, so you are 100% completely and utterly off base here. As for who is losing their mind...well, I'd have to argue it was Bush and Cheney first, the GOP second and a whole buttload of Americans who blinldy followed their lead without questioning their actions. If anything, Obama is restoring some sense of sanity to it all.

    April 21, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. John

    Typical prosecute them and let all the terrorists go from gitmo. Does anybody else see anything wrong with this picture! Frankly I would use any technique available to me to try to save lives in this country. We are fighting a different type of enemy now days. They will do the same thing to us. Cutting off peoples heads, brutal killings but lets let em go and prosecute our own decision makers! What a joke this is becoming. This administration might as well throw out the white flag to all other countries. You have to remember the other countries are all in envy of us. When the see us bend that will be the end! Remember that!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 21, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Allen

    How many democrates knew what going on and did or said nothing? Should they not face charges as accomplices?

    April 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. David

    All Obama is doing is diverting attention away from himself. He is single handledly trying to erase the Constitution. How he is getting away with all of this is amazing. Someone please stand up to this guy. He simply does not have nearly the amount of power he thinks he is entitled too. It is criminal the way he is mortgaging the future of our country. He seems to loathe everything about this country. But don't forget, he inherited this mess. saveing $100 million dollars? After the biggest spending bill in the hisotry of the world?????

    God help us. oh, I forgot, he is God.

    April 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Sweepy

    Not an easy decision, but wonderful. We are a better people than the last eight years have shown. The more light the better.

    April 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Gary

    If this prosecution is allowed it will be the end any opportunity that President Obama has of leading this country.

    April 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Kelby In Houston, TX

    GOOD! PROSECUTE CHEYNEY FIRST! ROVE SECOND!

    What amazes me is how the repuglicans/conservatives/GOPers defend Bush.
    One comment said "quit trying to appease the loony left," Are we so looney to desire that justice be done? Isn't it obvious that crimes have been commited here? I was speaking to my republican friend the other day and this woman was DEFENDING TORTURE. Like, it's a good thing that we did that. Let me tell you, it was not. We should have never abandoned our core ideals. We are no better than our enemy. We no longer stand on moral high ground. Now, people all over the world will follow our poor torturous example

    April 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. Kim

    Prosecute 'em! Just promise me someone will look into the billions made by Cheney, et al. on no-bid DoD contracts. We impeached Clinton, essentially, for lying about his sex life and Dubya and Dick are running around loose. What's wong with this picture? Thank God my son came home from Iraq-wounded and a decorated combat veteran, but he is home. So many moms can't say this, thanks to Dubya, Rummy, Cheney, Condi, etc.

    April 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. retired 91

    Chi Town April 21st, 2009 12:55 pm ET
    Chi Town: AMEN!!!
    .

    "One and done… Barry
    And thanks for opening pandora's box on the future… and don't foget Kennedy and the rest of the Arms Services Comittee who where fully aware of everything… including Hillary Clinton"

    April 21, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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